Thoughts of Summertime

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  1. 5 Beautiful Thoughts About Summertime - CoffeeJitters: the Blog
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Dough Greene.

5 Beautiful Thoughts About Summertime - CoffeeJitters: the Blog

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Hosea Ballou. Kellie Elmore. Marcus Tullius Cicero. Walt Whitman. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Swim in the sea. Drink in the wild air. Susan Branch. Van Morrison. Let your soul and spirit fly. Sam Keen. Design: Emily Schiff-Slater. Katie Daisy. Helen Keller. Instead, he found himself riveted by the tale of the crippled Porgy and his love for Bess, and wrote a letter to Heyward proposing an operatic version.

By that stage, the author and his wife were already adapting the book into a straight play, but he said, sure, an opera, why not? Then Wall Street crashed and the last thing wanted to do was invest in an expensive all-Negro opera. For a while, Heyward was on the verge of agreeing to a musical version starring Al Jolson in blackface. But then George contacted him again, and this time the opera was on.

Having worked on a novel, a play and now a musical version, DuBose Heyward had lived with these characters and their world a long time. This was, formally, a "straight" play but it had a lot of traditional Negro choral music in it, and at one point Bess sings a somewhat gloomy folk lullaby:. Eight years later, adapting the story with the Gershwins, DuBose Heyward reworked the thought:.

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Your daddy's rich And your mamma's good lookin' So hush little baby Don't you cry In the summer of , Heyward brought George Gershwin down from New York to Folly Island, a small barrier island ten miles from Charleston, in order that, as he put it, a composer from "the most sophisticated city in America" could immerse himself in "the music and bodily rhythms of the simple Negro peasant of the South".

As things turned out, after Heyward gave him the lyric for "Summertime", George wound up composing the tune back in New York. His socialite pal Kay Halle recalled:. George and I had an arrangement with the man at the desk of the Elysee, where I lived, if I was out and George wanted to come in, he could always have the key to my room.

One night I came in after a dinner about 11 o'clock, and as I walked up the stairway to my apartment, I heard the piano. I tiptoed in, George turned and saw me and said, 'Sit down, I think I have the lullaby.

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And so he sang in this high-wailing voice 'Summertime', and it was exquisite. We looked at each other and the tears were just coursing down my cheeks and I just knew that this was going to be beloved by the world.

It wasn't intended to be the opening number. It was cut on cost grounds: it would have involved a special set just for that scene, and the Theatre Guild balked at the expense.

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So the second song got promoted to first: "Okay," said George, "that means we start with the lullaby — and that's some lullaby. He's right. Sung by Clara to the baby cradled in her lap, it's nothing to do with storyline or dramatis personae but in its sheer sultry languor it transports us immediately to Catfish Row in Charleston: it's a perfect opening. And, by the time the chorus joins in, the song has infused the setting with a spiritual dimension: because Porgy And Bess is a "folk opera", Catfish Row is in its way a character in the drama, and the authors use this song as the community's leitmotif.

In the 70 years since, it's been done every which way from a classical recital staple Leontyne Price to Eighties bubblegum pop Fun Boy Three. And somewhere in between, Lena Horne gets the best of all worlds. But even the lousy versions can't get that lousy.

5 Beautiful Thoughts About Summertime

When it comes to skewering a season in song, this opening quatrain has never been bettered:. Summertime And the livin' is easy Fish are jumpin' And the cotton is high So your dad isn't rich and your ma ain't that good-looking? Hey, it's summer, and the fish are jumpin' If you're a Mark Steyn Club member please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  5. And, if you're thinking of joining us for our cruise from Montreal to Boston this fall, now's the best time to reserve your cabin. All rights reserved. No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of Mark Steyn Enterprises. If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club and you take issue with this article, then have at it in our comments section. Submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join.

    If you are already a member, please log in here:. That's the way this New Orleans girl has always heard the song and it always makes me tear up! I did a quick Internet search to make sure I was correct, only to find that several lyric sites have the singer dreaming of "magnolias in bloom" rather than "oleanders in June. Maybe Mark's superior research skills can solve this mystery! She is much better known for another floral work "The Rose". Back in the Eighties, during my teaching career, I accompanied several high school seniors on trips to New York City during the Easter break. Officially Spring Break but everyone called it the Easter Break.

    I did not teach at a high school, but a friend did, and he added me as an extra chaperone. I saw a number of Broadway shows those years and attended concerts and recitals. In the your included the Houston Grand Opera's production of "Porgy and Bess", of which I had seen great reviews. I was actually halfway back in that immense house. But a spectacular show like "Porgy and Bess" works well from a seat far away, since you get a broad sweeping view. Finally, the show started. The lights had dimmed, the stage blazed with light, showing the amazing sets: Practical two-story tenements that revolved to show interiors.

    Clara appeared, and began to sing. A theater as large as Radio City must be miked, and they singers were: But the job had been done badly. Even though I know the lyrics, I could not understand a word she said. And it went like that throughout the show, with few exceptions, where a singer was either well miked or had such a commanding voice that the lyrics were plainly heard, the best example being "It Ain't Necessarily So" and interaction between Sporting Life and Serena.

    The rest? A hopeless mishmosh of sounds more representative of the speaking voice of Charlie Brown's teacher.